Order of the Amber Die—Doomsday Dawn Playtest, Part 1

Saturday, July 25, 2018

You've heard their tales of marathon Adventure Path sessions, now the folks from the Order of the Amber Die are eagerly leaping into the Pathfinder Playtest. Below is the first report from their table as they play through the first portion of Doomsday Dawn! Beware spoilers if you intend on playing through this adventure!

The Order has a storied past with edition changes, as we began playing first edition AD&D in our GM's basement in 1987. Over the years, we switched to 2.0, then 3.0, next to 3.5, skipped 4th and went to 3.75—and yet now we stare at another phase of the game's evolution. For eighteen years, we've essentially played some iteration of 3.0—our longest stint in any edition. After so many years, it is an honor to be able to present our data from the dawn of a new era!

We've found that one of the best ways for a group to make the shift to a new edition is simply as a group. The players held several get-togethers and also used a live document to guide each other through some of this edition's most radical changes. To physically represent the new feature of Hero Points, one of our members cut tokens from aircraft aluminum in the likeness of the Amber Die. Another member created dozens of condition cards—a set for everyone. To celebrate the debut of Pathfinder's new goblin iconic, we reached out to Aradani Studios for the first set of goblin ears ever to appear at our table. Lastly, Fumbus had to have a miniature to match the rest of the iconics, and the artists at Blue Table Painting made sure that a goblin would show proudly among the veteran iconic miniatures around him!

The Party

Our roster throughout the playtest will adjust slightly for each part, consisting of OAD veterans from previous Paizo blog projects such as The Giantslayer Endeavor, The Strange Aeons Experiment, and The Azlant Odyssey. Also listed is the year they became a member of the Order (when a player has reached 100 hours at our table). While Resonance was tough on us without a cleric, this party set out to prove that even a non-traditional lineup without major access to healing could thrive in the new edition.

Seoni, human sorcerer

Bloodline: Imperial

Feats: Hobnobber, Toughness

Background: Family Friend

Played by Matt Hardin (2003)

Lem, halfing bard

Muse: Lore

Feats: Bardic Lore, Dubious Knowledge, Unfettered Knowledge

Background: Mind Quake Survivor

Played by Daniel Scholler (2007)

Fumbus, goblin alchemist

Feats: Quick Bomber, Burn It, Quick Repair

Formulas: Alchemist's fire, acid splash, antidote, elixir of life

Background: Goblin Renegade

Played by Erick Germer (2007)

Sajan, human monk

Feats: Toughness, Monastic Weaponry

Build: strength, flurry of blows, shurikens

Background: Budding Osirionologist

Played by Sean Linville (2016)

The Lost Star By The Numbers

Player Tracking Sheet

  • Average time spent in character creation: 144 minutes
  • Number of times a character was reduced to 0 HP: Fumbus (1), Sajan (2)
  • Number of times a character reached 0 Resonance: Fumbus (1), Sajan (1)
  • Number of critical fails when overspending Resonance: Fumbus (1)
  • Number of times a character ran out of spell slots: Lem (1)
  • Number of times a character ran out of spell points: 0
  • Number of Hero Points used: Fumbus (0), Lem (2), Sajan (3), Seoni (3)

GM Tracking Sheet

  • Total time spent playing The Lost Star: 6hrs, 43min
  • Total time spent preparing The Lost Star: 7hrs, 36min
  • Number of sessions spent playing The Lost Star: 2 (session increments are 4 hours)
  • Total number of Hero Points given out: 24
  • Number of characters reduced to 0 HP: 3
  • Number of characters killed: 0

Additional Data

Fumbus

  • Bombs thrown: 6 of 7
  • Persistent damage total: 10

Lem

  • Composition uses: 8
  • Cantrip damage (telekinetic projectile and chill touch): 28

Sajan

  • Uses of 3rd attack in a single round: 2
  • Successes of 3rd attack in a single round: 0

Seoni

  • Enemies' saving throws vs. spells: 9
  • Enemies' critical failure vs. spells: 1
  • Enemies' critical success vs. spells: 0

Hero Point Usage

  • 3: Moved, then full-casted magicmissile (Seoni)
  • 3: Extra attack (Sajan, missed)
  • 2: Rerolled attack (Lem, successful)

Resting and Encounters

  • Number of rests: 0
  • Number of encounters (traps/hazards included): 6

Highlights From The Lost Star

Not long after entering the Ashen Ossuary in search of a family heirloom, we got into a sprawling melee with goblins in the dark. What we used to call the tedious "five-foot shuffle," now became the highly mobile "goblin scuttle," and they ran circles around us. Our GM used the new third action to have goblins break away and run toward our back ranks, dog slicers in hand. Without attacks of opportunity, no one was entirely safe.

When it came to Hero Points, we saw plenty of them. In addition to the standard one point per session and one for contributing (OAD members are expected to carry plenty of out-of-game tasks), we threw ourselves at the adventure trying to do something daring or heroic enough to warrant an additional point. In the end, we were conservative with the points we earned—maybe too much—but their ability to save us from death was worth keeping around.

The final battle was nothing short of the action we've come to expect from Pathfinder. Sajan led the way into the chamber occupied by Drakus the Taker, a hobgoblin thought to be a vampire. The monk let off a shot with an expert crossbow he'd picked up, enhanced with magic weapon: natural 20. Fumbus followed in, urging the party on by throwing an alchemist's fire bomb: another natural 20. Drakus reverted to his true form, then lashed out with a natural 20 of his own, dropping the goblin renegade. A round later, the monk too lay at the feet of the ugothol. With just Seoni and Lem left, the sorcerer used three Hero Points to move into line of sight, followed by a full casting of magic missile for the win!

Current Situation

Near the end of our crawl through the ossuary, Lem suffered a critical hit from a poisoned lock that left the halfling struggling for life; before the poison could advance further, we hurried to the safety of Magnimar's streets. We also recovered the lost Star of Desna, and returned it to Keleri Deverin with plenty of time to reach the Swallowtail Festival—she couldn't be late for the launch of one of Paizo's most legendary Adventure Paths!

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Adam Daigle
Managing Developer

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Tags: Order of the Amber Die Pathfinder Playtest

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Wonderful first post and outing with the Pathfinder Playtest, Order of the Amber Die!

I'm shocked you didn't have any character deaths! I really thought my players would escape unscathed, but maybe it was the last of hero points that got one done in. Our human monk who excelled against Drakus fell to centipedes after they came back a third day to 'clear up' the rest of the Ashen Ossuary. I also dropped numerous characters below 0, though at least 3 of those were the barbarian within the same encounter. Try as the Cleric might to heal him, I brought him down!

Love that goblin alchemist mini!

Question for the DM and Sajan: with the flurry action did you do the two Strikes as 0/0 or 0/-4? We did the 0/-4.

Thrilled we'll have your updates to follow! Thank you!

Paizo Employee Designer

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Awesome stuff you guys!


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This campaign is great I almost killed my character when i jumped down the stair case leading to 6 skeletons with no visibility.

Order of the Amber Die

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SilentInfinity wrote:

Wonderful first post and outing with the Pathfinder Playtest, Order of the Amber Die!

I'm shocked you didn't have any character deaths! I really thought my players would escape unscathed, but maybe it was the last of hero points that got one done in. Our human monk who excelled against Drakus fell to centipedes after they came back a third day to 'clear up' the rest of the Ashen Ossuary. I also dropped numerous characters below 0, though at least 3 of those were the barbarian within the same encounter. Try as the Cleric might to heal him, I brought him down!

Love that goblin alchemist mini!

Question for the DM and Sajan: with the flurry action did you do the two Strikes as 0/0 or 0/-4? We did the 0/-4.

Thrilled we'll have your updates to follow! Thank you!

I know, no deaths! Everything felt really balanced with being able to knock PCs to the ground but not having the lightning-quick deaths that have occurred with a couple of our recent projects for the blog (i.e., graveknight w\greataxe, draugr w\greataxe). TPK certainly felt as present as ever when two PCs were on the ground in the final battle.

Flurry it was played as 0/0, then -4 (agile) and -8 (agile). I'm sure Sean will chime in here this weekend, but one amusing situation that occurred with Sajan was when he grabbed up a goblin with a natural 20, yet it managed to escape easily on its next action (abruptly ending the players' hand-slapping spree).

Glad you liked how everything turned out, we had a great time with it all!


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So I'm curious about something you had noted. The average time you said about character creation was about 2 and a half hours. Now was that time spent from each person working solely on their character, or was that chunk of time spent trying to figure out how to put characters together?


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2.5 hrs to make a character from experienced, "18 year" players is insane - but that sounds about right compared to my own experience. Nearly 3 hours for me.


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Hmmm...two PC deaths eh? That's a heavy loss for the start of an adventure. Also, I'm curious why you went with a Goblin PC (especially in a city like Magnimar which might not tolerate monstrous races like goblins).


Berselius wrote:
Hmmm...two PC deaths eh? That's a heavy loss for the start of an adventure. Also, I'm curious why you went with a Goblin PC (especially in a city like Magnimar which might not tolerate monstrous races like goblins).

The goblin can be a renegade of the Mudchewers, tho how they deal with the city afterwards might be an issue. Though they've got a friendly Aristocrat NPC after so shouldn't be too much of an issue.

Order of the Amber Die

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Berselius wrote:
Hmmm...two PC deaths eh? That's a heavy loss for the start of an adventure. Also, I'm curious why you went with a Goblin PC (especially in a city like Magnimar which might not tolerate monstrous races like goblins).

During character selection, there was no way I was missing out on the first goblin iconic, especially when Adam said there was a background for a goblin as part of the adventure. I was a renegade of the Mudchewers and participated in the failed coup, and Adam gave me the same information Talga knew. It got interesting when they yelled insults or directly tried to communicate with me, since I already knew most of the goblins. If we have to stick around Magnimar, I intend to keep a very low profile for sure!

We were fortunate not to have any deaths, but two of us were knocked into dying in the final battle.

The Exchange Order of the Amber Die

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KyleS wrote:
So I'm curious about something you had noted. The average time you said about character creation was about 2 and a half hours. Now was that time spent from each person working solely on their character, or was that chunk of time spent trying to figure out how to put characters together?

Good question, and Evilbob with his comment as well. I can add a little, since I was the one who had the shortest time at 75 minutes. We all felt like we could have made these characters faster than the average came out, but because of a few factors the time did seem a little high to us after we tallied it. One of us tried to see if it could be done using his phone and came in somewhere close to three hours. We were also learning a new system, and weren't sure whether to include the time it took us to read the rules about our characters as well. In addition, we hadn't memorized where everything was located in the rulebook, so there was time lost on searching that doesn't occur as much after playing the same edition for a while. You both raise some interesting points, I'll be in part three next, so I'm hoping to have more perspective soon!


Awesome, I'm glad to hear that it took so long because you were attempting a few different ways of creation while at the same time trying to piece a new system together. Thank you for giving some insight on that, I look forward to seeing the rest of your guy's feedback as I sadly do not have a group available to really participate in the play test.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Thank you (again) for sharing your dedication and creativity! I truly appreciate the positive and respectful nature you all take to the game. A great example for folks that play this awesome game of ours.


Awesome stuff as always. Congrats guys/ In my playtest Drakus also dropped a player with a brutal crit, the fight felt very intense, even without the 1hit kills of PF1. Cannot wait for the next update guys :)

The Exchange Order of the Amber Die

KyleS wrote:
Awesome, I'm glad to hear that it took so long because you were attempting a few different ways of creation while at the same time trying to piece a new system together. Thank you for giving some insight on that, I look forward to seeing the rest of your guy's feedback as I sadly do not have a group available to really participate in the play test.

I'm glad we could ease some of your concerns, I had some of the same feelings after I saw how long it took me. The time it took me to build a higher level character (soon to show up as our playtest continues) was probably close to the same as my first, so I'll take that as a positive that I'm learning the mechanics of a system.

We're super excited to be continuing our journey in the playtest, it's a shame that you aren't able to experience the full effect, but sometimes an observer can give a needed impartial observation! If we can help facilitate a vicarious gaming experience, then all of this is more than worth it. It's been a good deal of effort for us players so far, so thanks again for the kind words, it makes this experience so much better.

Order of the Amber Die

TSRodriguez wrote:
Awesome stuff as always. Congrats guys/ In my playtest Drakus also dropped a player with a brutal crit, the fight felt very intense, even without the 1hit kills of PF1. Cannot wait for the next update guys :)

I was so pumped that I opened with a 20 vs. Drakus!

Thanks for reading man, I miss those brutal days of 1-hit kills too, but maybe this is for the best. Did your player die? We still ended up (myself included) on the ground plenty, so it felt rough but fair.

Fight on!

Order of the Amber Die

Elorebaen wrote:
Thank you (again) for sharing your dedication and creativity! I truly appreciate the positive and respectful nature you all take to the game. A great example for folks that play this awesome game of ours.

Thanks so much for the kind words! We are all having a blast playtesting this new edition. And so, running a Sorcerer, while I was obviously paying particular attention to the way spells and spellcasting were going to work, I was also intrigued to see how something less common to spellcasters like Sorcerers was going to play out: demoralize.

It was interesting to see how demoralize worked with a spellcaster in combat-type situations. I thought it might be a cool combo to try out, since most spells are two actions, using my third action each round to demoralize a foe. I didn’t actually get to use it as much as I thought I would. It seemed my third action each round was often used for movement, but I am definitely intrigued to see how demoralize will play out as I play Seoni at higher levels!


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Always good to hear from you guys, and what a wonderful Setup you have created! Good luck in your further testing.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Adam Smith wrote:
SilentInfinity wrote:
Question for the DM and Sajan: with the flurry action did you do the two Strikes as 0/0 or 0/-4? We did the 0/-4.
Flurry it was played as 0/0, then -4 (agile) and -8 (agile).

Huh, the tentative consensus in this thread seems to be that it should be 0/-4. But I suspect you guys have a pretty good track record of getting the rules right...

Would be great to get some developer clarification regarding what was intended here. Maybe Mark Seifter or Jason Bulmhan will chip in?

Order of the Amber Die

DerNils wrote:
Always good to hear from you guys, and what a wonderful Setup you have created! Good luck in your further testing.

Good to hear from you too, DerNils! It's nice to get comments about the setup, when I'm not kicking butt as a monk, I'm a contractor who put a lot of work into creating the frame that we use to hang our backdrops and control lighting effects. The fun part is assigning jobs to other players during the setup process, and watching everyone click as a team for an hour before the session even begins.

Order of the Amber Die

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Porridge wrote:
Adam Smith wrote:
SilentInfinity wrote:
Question for the DM and Sajan: with the flurry action did you do the two Strikes as 0/0 or 0/-4? We did the 0/-4.
Flurry it was played as 0/0, then -4 (agile) and -8 (agile).

Huh, the tentative consensus in this thread seems to be that it should be 0/-4. But I suspect you guys have a pretty good track record of getting the rules right...

Would be great to get some developer clarification regarding what was intended here. Maybe Mark Seifter or Jason Bulmhan will chip in?

The players might chime in here later too, but I remember this being a 50/50 split at the table, with a lot of the same types of arguments being made that were on the thread. You're right that we have a pretty good track record with getting rules right, but it's a lot easier to do that when there is a clear and definitive rule. At the same time, as GM I liked that we played it as 0/0, since this was a playtest and the point was to gather data (even if that data might come from the less popular side of a rules debate). We didn't find Sajan to be overpowered, but this was also only one session. As we gear up for parts 2 and 3 this weekend, the players have mostly shifted to feeling that Flurry is likely intended to be played as 0/-4 (sigh). Sometimes I'm not sure who has the more difficult job during a playtest, the GM or players! :)

Order of the Amber Die

texas8170 wrote:
This campaign is great I almost killed my character when i jumped down the stair case leading to 6 skeletons with no visibility.

That’s awesome! Memorable moments like that are why I love to play this game. Our group actually missed the skeletons, but after we found out what was down there (and from your tale), we are glad we did!


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber
Adam Smith wrote:
Flurry it was played as 0/0, then -4 (agile) and -8 (agile).

This does seem to be an incorrect reading of the ability, as it does 2 Strike actions, both of which have the Attack trait (and thus both are separately affected by MAP).

I could see an argument for both strikes occuring at the same time and thus not affecting each other, but then the remainder of the attacks would be at -8 with agile (since you've already had two actions with the attack trait from Flurry). However, with the conspicuous absence of such language from the Flurry description (whereas Double Slice includes it, for example), I'm fairly certain 0/-4 for flurry is the correct reading.

The Exchange Order of the Amber Die

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FireclawDrake wrote:
Adam Smith wrote:
Flurry it was played as 0/0, then -4 (agile) and -8 (agile).

This does seem to be an incorrect reading of the ability, as it does 2 Strike actions, both of which have the Attack trait (and thus both are separately affected by MAP).

I could see an argument for both strikes occuring at the same time and thus not affecting each other, but then the remainder of the attacks would be at -8 with agile (since you've already had two actions with the attack trait from Flurry). However, with the conspicuous absence of such language from the Flurry description (whereas Double Slice includes it, for example), I'm fairly certain 0/-4 for flurry is the correct reading.

Yes, received confirmation to end the debate. No matter how we've each chosen to play it, correct ruling is 0/-4, which--most importantly--means Lem might just have a chance at showing Sajan up in a combat on the next blog. Hehehe!

Order of the Amber Die

Not if Seoni can show him up first! All I remember was Sajan on the ground and terrible rolling when he wasn’t—it wouldn’t have mattered anyway lol. The surprising real MVP of the battle was the Electric Arc cantrip. Gotta say, I find what they have done with cantrips to be really interesting, and I am looking forward to seeing how they scale and stack up at higher levels. Anybody else feel strongly about cantrips one way or the other?


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I feel Cantrip fulfill their role of having casters cast as their main activity instead of shooting crossbows until the boss fight. Some seem rather strong for being a Cantrip (disrupt undead), others have been strangely limited for no apparent reason. Why limit prestidigitation and unseen servant?


DerNils wrote:
I feel Cantrip fulfill their role of having casters cast as their main activity instead of shooting crossbows until the boss fight. Some seem rather strong for being a Cantrip (disrupt undead), others have been strangely limited for no apparent reason. Why limit prestidigitation and unseen servant?

I feel that's intentional.

Cantrips are now more like an attack to not have to keep wasting resources in combat if there's no need. While spells are the burst and the utility.

So, utility cantrips are relatively weaker than damage ones because they serve different purpose.

It's the eternal pet peeve of the community to limit the utility of casters and raise the utility of martial (some understandable, some not) so we can't have at will *strong* utility. Damage cantrips are an entirety different thing, since they are encounter only and balanced around expected *low* damage that a character should do *for free* if he wishes.


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Good point, I am just surprised "fluff" spells like prestidigitation and unseen servant needed to be reined in. I don't think I ever encountered anything unbalanced about them, but my experience is limited. Overall, I am happy with cantrips.


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DerNils wrote:
Good point, I am just surprised "fluff" spells like prestidigitation and unseen servant needed to be reined in. I don't think I ever encountered anything unbalanced about them, but my experience is limited. Overall, I am happy with cantrips.

Prestigiditation, no. It was a fluff spell that I'm sad that's being reigned in. Although, I've heard absurd requests from my players on occasion to use it in ways a cantrips shouldn't be used (but never explicitly had rules to reign it)

Unseen servant cheese though is real in a lot of circumstances. Like free reloads on guns/xbows and etc.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Class Deck, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Daniel Scholler wrote:


Yes, received confirmation to end the debate. No matter how we've each chosen to play it, correct ruling is 0/-4, which--most importantly--means Lem might just have a chance at showing Sajan up in a combat on the next blog. Hehehe!

Look at it like this, though -- you'll effectively wind up testing it both ways, and that difference could be useful data.

Order of the Amber Die

shroudb wrote:
DerNils wrote:
I feel Cantrip fulfill their role of having casters cast as their main activity instead of shooting crossbows until the boss fight. Some seem rather strong for being a Cantrip (disrupt undead), others have been strangely limited for no apparent reason. Why limit prestidigitation and unseen servant?

I feel that's intentional.

Cantrips are now more like an attack to not have to keep wasting resources in combat if there's no need. While spells are the burst and the utility.

So, utility cantrips are relatively weaker than damage ones because they serve different purpose.

It's the eternal pet peeve of the community to limit the utility of casters and raise the utility of martial (some understandable, some not) so we can't have at will *strong* utility. Damage cantrips are an entirety different thing, since they are encounter only and balanced around expected *low* damage that a character should do *for free* if he wishes.

My thoughts exactly! I love the fact that, as a caster, you are now actually casting all the time, and not shooting a crossbow, for example. I think your analysis of at-will cantrip damage versus at-will utility (and burst) is spot on. It will be interesting to see if it stays exactly that way won’t it? And as far as nerfed cantrips go, how about Guidance?!

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